September 22, 2013
The rain was pouring. The boats were gliding. Laughter filled the air. Syracuse Rowers of the past and present came to the SU Boathouse on September 21st to celebrate the sport they all love so dearly. Alums in attendance at “An Evening at TenEyck” ranged from graduates of 2013 to as far back as 1950. […]
The rain was pouring. The boats were gliding. Laughter filled the air.
Syracuse Rowers of the past and present came to the SU Boathouse on September 21st to celebrate the sport they all love so dearly. Alums in attendance at “An Evening at TenEyck” ranged from graduates of 2013 to as far back as 1950.
Everyone there was determined to not let the rain dampen the mood on an eventful night that included food, alumni races, and Syracuse Rowing Hall of Fame inductions.
The alumni races kicked off the event. A draw was created with one half being made of teams of 8 alumni rowers and a coxswain and the other half being made of teams of current rowers and their class (freshman, sophomore, etc.) who had faced off in preliminaries that morning. The winner of the alumni half of the draw would face the winner of the class half of the draw to determine the night’s winner.
Beth Marks, class of ’83 and the only woman on her alumni team, said she was just there to have a good time.
“It’s fun!” she said. “I haven’t been in a sweep (a boat in which each rower handles a single oar) though in a long time. Probably 25 years!”
Mike Gennaro, class of 2011, is a USA National Team member who won a Bronze medal at the World Championships this summer. He brought his game face to the event.
“It’s super competitive,” he said. “I’m not losing to any of these guys.”
As it turned out, Gennaro’s eight was edged by another alumni crew under the lights on the Onondaga Lake Inlet that night. The current senior class boat was the night’s overall winner.
Nobody seemed particularly bothered by the rain. In fact, most said they enjoyed rowing in the rain as it makes the water very flat.
“Rain without wind is okay,” Marks said. “It wasn’t pouring. It just makes the oars a little slippery to hold onto, but other than that it really doesn’t affect very much.”
While there was much excitement around the alumni races, the biggest part of the night was the Syracuse Rowing Hall of Fame inductions. The new inductees are the SU 1904 Team (SU’s first IRA National Champions), legendary coach James A. TenEyck, for whom the Syracuse boathouse (and thus the event) is named, Tom Darling (class of ’81), and Bill Purdy (class of ’79).
Drew Harrison, class of ’68, came from his home in British Columbia to be at the event and said the 1904 team was groundbreaking and set certain standards for everyone attending.
“Anyone who has been a champion in any era has to do extraordinary things,” he said.
Harrison coached three consecutive Syracuse freshman crews to national championships at the IRA in the 1970s.
For Darling and Purdy, there was the obvious feeling of honor for being chosen to be inducted, but also a definite amount of nerves.
“Syracuse (rowing) has got a long tradition behind it and I am incredibly honored to just be considered and then inducted,” said Purdy, a member of SU’s last IRA national championship eight in 1978.
“It feels good!” Darling, a 3-time Olympian (pictured right), said. “I feel very… grateful for being nominated! It’s a good chance to thank the coaches and to thank the guys that I worked with.”
It’s a sport that doesn’t have a true international celebrity. It’s a sport that doesn’t get a lot of media coverage. It’s a sport that only people who actually participate can understand.
The unified love of rowing is what brought these people back to the SU Boathouse where so many of their memories lie.
You can watch the first alumni race of the event here.